Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Sylvia Feld - July 28, 1982

Life in the United States

What made you decide to come to the United States?

SF: The haterage was so big being in Germany and, and, and, and whatever we li... lived through then I said to myself any place whatever to go then it's the only place to live generally because we can't live with, with, with the pleasant life what we had. And uh, I had an uncle in United States then I begged him to present me papers we knew this is a free country and it's a good country that we could make it. But it was still in a selfish way, then I have to say then uh, the only place for us supp... should be, supposed to be, to go to Israel to make our country going but we lived through such hard life. And after the war I was very sick and I had a very bad operation and I thought all the time I'm not gonna make it after this operation because it was no medicine--no, nothing what to cure me. Then uh, I couldn't take it to struggle anymore then that's why I wanna come to United States and I felt I'm gonna have a better tomorrow. So when the family didn't wanna part that's why my sister and my brother they decided to come to the states also.

How many children do you have?

SF: Now I have three children. I have two sons and a daughter. One son his name is Alan he's married and has a family and my other son is married and has a family and I have a daughter she just married a year ago.

Did you become a United States citizen?

SF: I became five years I was in this country. I couldn't wait the day that it should come, the five years to become a citizen, 'cause I felt it's my country, my life and I have to become American.

What was your initial impression of the United States?

SF: When we came was very hard for us because we had to be on the UNRRA's uh, supporting because my husband was in line almost a year, standing in line and he wants to go to work and he was standing in line in a factory to get a job. But finally he got the job and uh, be... because in the beginning of being Jewish took him a whole year and friends of his they, they didn't tal... they didn't said uh, they made applications they didn't said then they Jewish then they got the job right away. But for him being honest then he said that he's Jewish it took him a whole year. And after that then uh, he worked in the factory was very hard too like you know, any little thing. Like he went for his lunch hour, then they already told him then he lost his job. Then he had to try to do anything else to survive because he had already a family and we want to build another family--want to have more children because we lost a whole family and, and, and, and this was the purpose of surviving the purpose for us for existing and living.

Did you ever talk about your experiences?

SF: I could never talk much to my children about because I was very nervous person, an emotional person and I was always afraid then I'm gonna give my emotions to my children and God knows, in a way it was true...

[interruption in interview] They, they tried to ask me all the time some questions about my parents and they felt like lost then they never experienced to have a grandmother or a grandfather and it was very hard on me on raising them. I never could leave a child with, with, with another adult, you know? And, and, and this was really nerve racking. But my children saw me all the time and I stopped talking about it then I burst in tears and I got very sick about it--I couldn't talk. I couldn't help myself--I wish I could, I always said maybe someday I be able to write about it because if I leave this world, I want them to know what I ever went through in my life. But the kids were small and my daughter she couldn't stand it--the way how I cried all the time. Then she used to say, "Mommy you're lucky now you have your own three children--look God was good to you then why don't you live for us and please forget what happened to you? Just try not to cry." And, and she put me in, in a position then I felt maybe she's right maybe it's not healthy for the kids. But now getting older and my kids are married and I came to a point and I was very anxious and I asked for it and I said that then now on it right and have a little bit of my history which I know not, not a quarter of my life I could talk about it. First of all the emotion is so big and, and the, the tension is so much and you keep forgetting the main important facts which you went through. The main important things what you went through. After the war then I was sick and I had that gall bladder operation and, and I went down and I, I weighed eighty, ninety pounds. And, and I felt I could never make it. In, in, in being operated I was pregnant with my older son. And they put me on the table as the crying, screaming I said, "Take my life but don't take my baby's life. At least let him survive because I know I will not." But, but, but thanks God I did, I'm happy. I know my kids needs me, so my husband and I'm uh, happy to be alive.

Did your co-workers or neighbors or your friends ever talk to you about the war?

SF: We talked uh, in, in, in bunches you know? But everybody has a different story. And, and, and you know if I keep telling sometimes, people at my job, American people, and they keep asking me then uh, is it possible then, then you telling us the truth because they keep saying then never was true. And, and sounds to us then where we were then such bad things happen. And I told them then whatever I tell you it's not just the truth, just the truth from my heart. And the way you live and, and lost the whole family, nobody can prescribe the situation in our suffering, you know? It's an expression in the world you can lose father and mother but you cannot live being hungry. And I lived through being hungry and I lived through lo... losing everybody. And somehow they question me uh, "How come you survive?" But it's no answer to it I don't know how and I don't know how I did. Maybe God want this way.

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